How To Protect Your Bank From Data Breaches

Introduction

Businesses, especially financial institutions, have a lot to keep track of and enforce when it comes to Cybersecurity.  Not only do they have to protect their customer’s accounts from getting hacked, but there is also the myriad of compliance laws that they have to adhere to.  However, another Cyber issue that needs to be addressed is data breaches and ransomware, whether it is intentional or not.

In this article, we outline some key steps that you can take to help to protect your bank in this regard.

What You Need To Do To Prevent Data Breaches

Here are some top tips:

  1. Employ the Zero Trust Framework:

Up until now, one of the biggest buzzwords was Two Factor Authentication, also known simply as “2FA.”  With this, your bank is using at least two unique authentication methods to confirm the identity of people that are trying to gain access to a website or application.  Traditionally, this has been the password and a One-Time Password (this is an alphanumeric string that is often emailed or sent via text to your smartphone), or even a set of challenge/response questions.  But the Cyberattacker of today is navigating around these methods, so financial institutions are now deploying what is known as the “Zero Trust Framework.”  As its name implies, you cannot trust anybody or anything in either the external or internal environment of your organization.  If anybody wishes to gain access to a digital asset, they must pass through at least three or more layers of differing authentication mechanisms. 

2. Break Up Your Infrastructure:

Many financial organizations have relied upon what is known as “Perimeter Security.”  Simply put, this means that there is only one boundary protecting your IT and Network Infrastructure from the external environment.  The primary disadvantage of this is that once this has been broken through, the Cyberattacker can gain instant access to almost anything. Because of this, you should seriously consider breaking out infrastructure into smaller segments known as “Subnets.”  Each of one of them will have their own layer of security, implementing the Zero Trust Framework described above.  Therefore, if a Cyberattacker can get into a Subnet, the statistical chances of them getting into the others becomes much lower.  Also, by making use of Subnets, this prevents any lateral movement by the Cyberattacker from taking place.

3. Make Use of Biometrics:

This is a particular type of security technology in which the identity of an individual is confirmed by the unique physiological and/or behavioral traits that they possess.  This is a great tool to use for physical access entry servers inside your brick-and-mortar premises, especially when it comes to the data centers and the servers that reside in them.  For this, Fingerprint Recognition and Iris Recognition are the two most popular tools that are used and they can even be used to replace the traditional password.  When they are used in these kinds of instances, they become known as “Single Sign-On” solutions.

4. Implement Encryption Protocols:

With this method, you are scrambling the financial information and data into a garbled state at the point of origination until it reaches its destination, where it is rendered into a decipherable format again.  This entire process is known as “Encryption.” The idea behind this concept is that if a malicious third party were to intercept this as it makes way across the lines of network communications, there is not much that they can do with it because it is in a totally undecipherable format.  The only way that they can make use of it is if they can somehow guess the decryption keys.  Therefore, the stronger the Encryption protocols you deploy, the lower the chances of this happening.

5. Assign the Appropriate Access Controls:

Using access controls allows you to assign your employees the bare minimum of rights, privileges, and permissions when it comes to accessing the shared resources at your financial organization.  You are only granting them enough to do what they need to accomplish their daily job tasks and nothing more.  By doing this, you will help to prevent any non-intentional data leakages from occurring.  Any escalation in these permissions must be very carefully reviewed by the IT Security team and by the CISO before they can be granted.

6. Secure All Devices:

Now that the hybrid work environment seems to be taking root, you must make sure that your employees are using only company-issued devices to do their work.  Also make sure that they are up-to-date with all of the security requirements that are required.  This even includes deploying the latest software patches and upgrades, and even any firmware updates as well.  Also make sure that you have a “Remote Wipe” that you can trigger in the case that any device gets lost or stolen.  This functionality will eliminate all of the information and data that is stored in the device, thus making it useless to the Cyberattacker.

7. Keep Educating Your Employees:

You must hold regular security awareness training programs for your employees.  There should be a special emphasis placed upon Phishing, Social Engineering, Smishing (this is the text-based version of the Email attack), and Robocalls.  After the training is over, it is also important to conduct testing exercises to see which of your employees fall prey to a simulated attack.  For those that do, they should be given extra instruction and training on what to look out for.

8. Make Use of Password Managers:

Even though Biometrics are available (as just reviewed), passwords will never go away.  In some form or another, they will always be one of the de facto standards used to confirm the identity of your employees.  Given this, you need to make sure that the passwords that employees are using are hard to break.  True, it can be extremely difficult to remember a long and complex password, so you should make use of password managers.  These are software applications that can do the following:

  • Create hard-to-break passwords.
  • Reset passwords on a prescribed timetable.
  • Notify your employee if one of their passwords has been compromised and create a new one instantaneously.
  • Store the passwords in a secure repository.

Password managers are very affordable to obtain, and many of them offer a free version as well (but keep in mind you get what you pay for).

What Are My Next Steps for Protecting & Preventing a Data Breach?

These are just some steps that you and your IT Security team can implement to help mitigate the risk of a data breach.  But for further help and advice on deploying them, you should always consult first with a Managed Service Provider (MSP). Results Technology is an award-winning MSP that specializes in IT compliance, financial institution IT solutions, and cybersecurity. Give us a call today if you would like to schedule a free consultation with one of our experts.